It was an exciting couple of days during the Group Stage at ESL Cologne. We got to witness some teams finding their peak form, whilst others stumbled and faltered before getting to play in front of the crowd.
I think it would be perfectly fair to say that Group A went as many would have predicted it to. Despite Liquid’s close game against MVP PK in Round 1 that was a bit of surprise, everything else went as it should.
Liquid and NaVi faced off in Round 2 and NaVi could have very well won the series 2-0 if it weren’t for a massive slip up from s1mple. S1mple failed a knife attempt on the last Liquid player alive and NaVi proceeded to lose the round. From here Liquid won the remaining rounds to force overtime and came out on top.
FaZe looked weak against NRG in the upper bracket and continued to struggle in the lower bracket against Mouz. Mouz were very unfortunate this event, both games they lost were against NaVi, which prevented them from reaching the playoff stage of the event. In the upper bracket, it was a 16-14 loss in a best of one and they met again in the deciding match in the lower bracket which NaVi won 2-1.
Despite not reaching playoffs, Mouz can take many positives from this event moving forward. Liquid managed to confirm the #1 seed in Group A after a 2-0 win over NRG.
Over in Group B, things didn’t go exactly as planned. However, Astralis did pull off an extremely impressive performance, showing that they’re back to battle Liquid for the top spot. They defeated BIG 16-4 in Round 1 and then beat Fnatic 16-1 and 16-6 in Round 2, a truly dominant performance. They secured #1 seed in Group B after a 2-0 win over NiP, but the games were closer.
NiP were possibly the biggest surprise in Group B. They had struggled greatly at many of the past events but after a roster change, it seems to be looking up for them. They picked up wins against Vitality and Heroic before falling to Astralis. Heroic also knocked ENCE to the lower bracket which was a massive surprise.
Despite the loss in Round 1, Vitality battled hard through the lower bracket to secure a playoff spot. They had to pick up wins against ENCE, Fnatic and Heroic. Meanwhile, the downfall of MiBR continues as they lost to both Fnatic and BIG, only managing to win a single map at the event.
ESL Cologne has been amazing so far, and it will only get better with the atmosphere from the live crowd during the playoffs. The six teams that have made their way to playoffs are:
- Team Liquid,
- NRG Esports,
- Ninjas in Pyjamas,
Both Liquid and Astralis gained a bye through to the semi-final due to finishing with the #1 seed in their groups. The winner of NaVi vs NiP will go on to play Liquid, and the winner of NRG vs. Vitality will go on to play Astralis.